The Liverpool estate that gave John Lennon the title for a song as well as childhood hours sneaking into the grounds with friends is now open to the public, including of course hordes of Beatles fans.
The previously-locked gates opened Sept. 14 on a new visitor center, cafe and shop, in addition to the 100 acres of gardens. However, the original house is long gone.
Built for a wealthy shipping magnate in the 1870s, by Lennon's time, it had become a Salvation Army children's home. Six years after the 1967 song's release, it was demolished and replaced with a smaller modern facility, and then closed in 2005. Lennon lived nearby, and used to slip through the fence to climb trees and play in the garden.
In its heyday it also hosted a summer festival that was a Lennon favorite; his Aunt Mimi, recalls that “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late!’”
Photo: the iconic gates, and Lennon's sister Julia Baird, honorary president of the Strawberry Field Project